This week I chose to use a prompt from one of my class textbooks, Writing Creative Nonfiction, edited by Carolyn Forche and Philip Gerard. The prompt reads: “Take 3 disparate objects, at random, from your purse, your backpack, your shelves. Set them in front of you and begin writing, allowing 15 minutes for each object. See if there is a common image or theme you can use to bind these together.”
I used these as inspiration points for fictional story starts. I’d love to know what interests you, or where you lose interest in each one. I’d also be curious to see what themes you notice or think could be pulled out.
3 Inspiration Objects
The party was loud. So many people, many of whom she knew and worked with. New Year’s Eve, top floor hotel, downtown Tokyo. At times she had to step away from it all to recenter herself, to take a break from being who she was, to be who she is. Strange that – the changes. A year ago everything had been so new so exciting. She’d been so fresh-faced and naive. Now she often came across as a pro at all of it. As if champagne flutes and exotic cocktails were all old hat to her. They weren’t of course.
She stepped to the wall of windows overlooking the glittering lights of the
city below, digging into her purse and pulling out the credit-card-sized box of pale blue mints as she moved. She’d studied the Japanese characters before, but her mind was so fuddled by the alcohol and weariness that she couldn’t make any sense of them tonight. Oh well. She popped one in her mouth and directed her eyes up in favor of sky over city. As the cooling sensation of the mint began to penetrate the brain-fog, she realized that she was desperately searching for stars. The electric shimmer from below drowned them out. Just like the cool of the window pane was draining away the heat lingering from the overly-crowded room.
She almost wished she could slip away. Take the elevator down to the cool marble lobby below and walk the deserted streets to the lower-scale hotel a few blocks away. But she didn’t completely know the way and this time of night, wasn’t sure she’d find a taxi. She also knew that the girls and her sister wouldn’t appreciate her taking the key. Besides, her sister would probably be worried if she left. She was, after all, just visiting for the holidays. She sighed. Time to go back in. //
Achiele laughed and gracefully withdrew from the riotous circle of dancers. The heartbeat of the drums stayed with her and she found her steps swaying naturally to the beat. How could she not? The rhythms of her land pulsed within her. The drums- they called, mourned, laughed, caressed or hypnotized. Her blood would always respond.
She smiled to herself. As the distance deepened, her steps quickened . She thought she had glimpsed a smaller shadow slipping away from teh opposite side of the gyrating throng. She thought she knew where it was headed.
The path wound down to the bluff overlooking the river. It was that hour of night/morning when the hippos were returning from their forage. She figured she’d find him there – crouched upon a rock far enough away from the bank that hi presence wouldn’t alarm them. He loved the hippos, they both did. But they’d seen enough to always keep a healthy respect for them too. Too many others did not.
“Jumai?” she called softly when she knew she was close enough.
“Here sister!” Came the little boy’s voice from an outcropping off to her left. She parted the branches sheltering him and he scooted over dutifully to make room for her on the rock.
“Have the fatted ones returned yet?” She whispered.
“No, I’m a little early.” He shook his head. “I just didn’t want to wait anymore.” //
III. Yellow Ribbon
Gracie escaped from the stifling family room. Most of the uncles had fallen asleep. Her aunties and grandmama had finished up in the kitchen and repaired to the sun-porch with their handicrafts and gossip. The other cousins hadn’t noticed her. The older ones were in the basement playing cards and the younger ones upstairs with their toys – or taking naps. She could have a few hours of solitude if she left now.
She grabbed her jacket from the freezer room and quietly eased shut the inside door. Once it closed she knew no one would hear the squeaky hinges of the front one. She didn’t like to be heard – hadn’t since the fever. Being quiet made it easier for her to be overlooked. She darted down the walk, turned right and headed for the open field and the dirt road leading out of town.
Easter had come early this year and while most of the snow had melted, there were patches peeking out from under shelter-belts. She knew the road well. She’d walked it often enough since coming to live in town. Mama didn’t like her to go alone, but Mama was busy so this time she didn’t care.
Gracie cut left across the meadow-marsh and quickly left the edges of the Parsons’ land. Ten more minutes and she knew she would see the rusty gate and the stone walls. The meadowlarks delighted her in the mid-afternoon calm. Their singing told her that Spring truly was just around the corner.
She reached the cemetery and quickly found the site she’d been looking for. It was peaceful here and she knew she could talk without fear. There was no one Hearing to misunderstand her. She realized she’d forgotten to pick flowers. Her face fell until she fingered the yellow ribbon around her braid. The stone’s perma-vase would benefit from the cheery brightness. //